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Sacramento intends to turn ‘horrific’ Stephon Clark death into real change, says mayor

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says the city won't wait to do a thorough review of the police department's policies, protocols and training after the shooting death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark. Steinberg joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the ways Sacramento has tried address the problem in the past, and unanswered questions about the officers pressing the mute button on their body cams.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    City officials, in particular, the mayor of Sacramento and the police chief, have been the focus of much of the public's outrage.

    Hari Sreenivasan has that perspective.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Darrell Steinberg has been mayor of Sacramento since 2016. He joins me now.

    Mayor Steinberg, first just the — to address the concern that Mr. Crump just had, why the different narratives so soon after the shooting?

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    Well, the investigation is just beginning here.

    And, you know, I know sometimes, in the moments and days after a horrific event like this, there's a lot of information that gets out that may or may not be the case.

    But I want to tell you that we are not going to wait until the end of the investigation here in Sacramento to do a thorough review of the policies, the protocols and the training. It's one thing to not prejudge whether or not these officers acted within the scope of the policy, the law and the training.

    But it's a whole another thing to ask whether the protocols and the trainings themselves need to be corrected. And we're going to be very, very aggressive about this, because, regardless of whether or not there was legal — will be legal culpability here, the outcome was just plain wrong.

    A 22-year-old young man like this shouldn't have lost his life in this way. And so we are going to be diligent.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Mayor Steinberg, with respect, unfortunately, this is not a new occurrence. There are cities around this country that have tackled this, that have tried to figure out what sorts of policy prescriptions that they can make to recover and maybe prevent this from happening again.

    So what's taken Sacramento so long?

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    Well, Sacramento is actually, in some ways, on the forefront.

    We have one of the most progressive video release policies in the country. Our chief released this video within three days of the shooting. A year-and-a-half ago, our policy and the policies throughout the country are rarely, if ever, to release video.

    We are one of the first cities to have all our officers actually equipped with body cams. And so we have a lot more work to do, there's no question about it. I mean, certainly, the question is, is there not a better way? And the answer has to be, yes, there has to be a better way

    And the better way is around de-escalation. It's around less lethal force. Of course it is. But — and that's exactly what we're going to pursue.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Mr. Mayor, if it wasn't for the death of Joseph Mann in that case two years ago, you wouldn't have had this body cam video release policy.

    I know this is an ongoing investigation, but why did the officers in this particular case press the mute button on those cameras? And why can't we hear what's on that tape?

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    I don't know. Certainly, there's a lot of audio that you can hear, but it was turned off at some time.

    And that's a question that I have, that the community has, and will be answered in the investigation. Certainly, the question we will be asking at our next public hearing is simply, is it ever appropriate to mute a body cam? If the answer to that question is no, I think we will already have the answer.

    But we're going to is ask that question, certainly, as one of the key troubling aspects of the case.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Mayor, you have also said that you don't believe your police are racist, but you do think that implicit bias might have played a role in this.

    So are you willing to implement implicit bias training for your officers, like, say, Indianapolis did after the shooting of Aaron Bailey last year?

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    We are already starting. And, absolutely, we are going — we must intensify our implicit bias training, because, look it, here's what I know.

    I have a 21-year-old son. I never would have thought of having to tell him as a teenager to keep his hands in the 10-2 driving position if he were approached by a police — or stopped by a police officer while driving his car.

    That is what African-American mom and dads have to do with their kids, and from all strata of society. I hear this from everybody. Implicit bias of course is real. And to deny it is to not to do everything we have to do to prevent this from happening.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Finally, Mayor Steinberg, you had a 10-year-old kid testify at city hall that he was scared of police. He was pointing to this case in tears and saying 20 shots over a cell phone.

    How do you deal with kind of that deep-seated problem?

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    You take this moment, and you turn it into a movement.

    You take the anguish, the trauma and the pain, and you make real change. Sacramento has a wonderful civic culture. And if there's any city that could turn this horrific event into permanent and real change, it's the capital city of California. And that's exactly what we intend to do.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right, Mayor Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, thanks so much.

  • Darrell Steinberg:

    Thank you.

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